Hacksaw Ridge


Comebacks. Cinema is seeing a few of these recently, some good, one in particular really shouldn't have bothered: yes we're talking about the musical in general, and La La Land specifically.

With Antoine Fuqua not only making such a pig's ear with his recent version of The Magnificent Seven, and in doing so, squashing any kind of revival for the western itself, it's a relief and joyous surprise to see Hacksaw Ridge, a war flick, blowing up so brilliantly on our screens.

It's a double whammy too, with Mel Gibson making a welcome return as a director, after an eleven year break since helming Apocalypto in 2006.

boom reviews Hacksaw Ridge
Despite being a big crowd pleaser, it's no surprise that grenade tennis failed to catch on.

With many of his friends and family enlisting to help out in the war effort, young Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) feels it's his duty to do the same. However, as a conscientious objector, he cannot morally pick up a gun and physically fight the enemy. Instead, he wants to join as an Army Medic and save lives and not end them.

As admirable as his intentions are, getting the army to accept his views is another matter. Basic training is certainly problematic when you consider that a big part of it is how to use a rifle.

Despite the obstacles the army threw his way, Desmond soon realises that getting through training was only half the battle, with the true test coming face to face with an enemy determined to kill all that got in their way.

Although Hacksaw Ridge in many ways conforms to the usual themes and imagery of the war flick, its remarkable story gives it a gleaming edge, and that is that a WWII soldier managed to survive devastating conflict with the enemy without firing a shot. This is made all the more remarkable in that it is, unbelievably, a true story.

Gibson continues to prove that he's got what it takes to direct. Not only does he impress on all fronts - with the war scenes being particularly gritty and brutal - but that he's produced a big film for a paltry $40 million, which is loose change by Hollywood standards.

He also gets strong performances from his youthful cast. Garfield is instantly likeable - and that can be said for pretty much everything he's in - and conveys a young man with conviction with consummate ease.

boom reviews Hacksaw Ridge
There's no place for whoopee cushions in the army son, so you understand why you have to be shot.

As far as the supporting cast go, Teresa Palmer as the love interest Dorothy Schutte is suitably adorable, and Sam Worthington is surprisingly low key as Captain Glover. Vince Vaughn can often over egg a performing pudding, but is surprisingly restrained as Sergeant Howell. In fact the film could have benefited from more of Vaughn (which is something you don't often find yourself saying), particularly in the early training scenes.

It is a film that, like the best war films, provides startling imagery of the fiercest of fighting scenes, that also manage, strangely, to underline the futility of war.

Even if Hacksaw Ridge doesn't spearhead a comeback of the war genre, it puts up a magnificent fight.

we give this four out of five